At the Supreme Court’s Wednesday conference yesterday, actions of note included:

  • After a divided Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed a conviction because it was based on an insurance regulation the majority held violated First Amendment protections for commercial speech, the Attorney General — representing the Insurance Commissioner — asked the Supreme Court to depublish the opinion.  The court denied that request, but granted ordered review on its own motion, in People v. Martinez, and it limited the issue to:  “Did the Court of Appeal correctly declare California Code of Regulations, title 10, section 2076, unconstitutional on its face?”  (Link added.)  Simplified, the regulation prohibits people in the bail business from arranging to get information from others about arrests or criminal complaints.  The appellate court concluded that, although “the state has substantial interests in preventing bail licensees from engaging in, directly or indirectly, oppressive and unscrupulous bail solicitation,” the state “failed to demonstrate that section 2076 provides more than ‘only ineffective or remote support for the government’s purpose.’ ”
  • The court agreed to hear Davis v. Fresno Unified School District, and it limited the issue to:  “Is a lease-leaseback arrangement in which construction is financed through bond proceeds rather than by or through the builder a ‘contract’ within the meaning of Government Code section 53511?”  (Link added.)  The published opinion of the Fifth District answered the question in the negative and concluded that the plaintiff could thus “pursue a taxpayer’s action seeking the remedy of disgorgement.”
  • The court also granted review in Prang v. Amen, a property tax case, where a divided Second District, Division Five, published opinion upheld a county’s reassessment of property that was transferred to a trust from a corporation partially owned by the trust.  Reassessment was improper if the transfer did not alter the properties’ proportional ownership interests — “represented by stock” — of the transferor and transferee.  The issue, the appellate court said, is whether “ ‘stock’ refer[s] only to voting stock or all classes of stock.”  The majority held it means all stock in the transferring corporation.  The dissent asserts the interpretation is improperly “inconsistent with the considered legal view of the State Board of Equalization,” which had reversed the reassessment.
  • As already noted, the court denied review in a case concerning the constitutionality of part of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 and it rejected a request by an appellate lawyer and a retired Court of Appeal presiding justice to transfer a bunch of backlogged Third District cases to other appellate courts (also here).
  • The court also denied review in a case in which it had more than a passing interest.  In Communities for a Better Environment v. Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, the First District, Division Four, in a published opinion, held to be unconstitutional parts of a state statute limiting judicial review of decisions by the Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission on the siting of thermal power plants.  One offending provision says siting decisions “are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of California,” which the appellate court concluded, among other things, violates the state constitution’s grant of original jurisdiction to superior courts and courts of appeal.  Unlike the Martinez case (see above), the Supreme Court is letting stand a determination of unconstitutionality.
  • The court dismissed review in Gonzales v. San Gabriel Transit, which was a grant-and-hold for Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., where the court in January held that its 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 applies retroactively to all cases not final when Dynamex became final.  In Gonzales, the Second District, Division Four, held in a published opinion that the defendant forfeited a non-retroactivity argument and that, “[i]n any event, there is no reason to conclude that Dynamex departs from the usual rule of retroactive application.”  [Disclosure:  Horvitz & Levy filed the petition for review in Gonzales and amicus curiae briefs in Dynamex and in Vazquez.]
  • In In re Gomez, after the Sixth District denied a habeas corpus petition, the Supreme Court granted and transferred the case back to the appellate court with directions to issue an order to show cause why the petitioner is not entitled to relief because of ineffective assistance of counsel and newly discovered evidence.
  • There were five criminal case grant-and-holds:  two more holding for a decision in People v. Lewis (see here) (that’s a total of 210 Lewis grant-and-holds), one more holding for People v. Lopez (see here), one holding for Walker v. Superior Court (see here), and one more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here).